This rare sacred ritual of approximately 3,000 people laughing together continuously for 20 min, is based on a tale found in Japanese mythology. "Enraged by her younger brother's mischief, the sun goddess (Amaterasu) locked herself in a cave behind stone doors, and the world became engulfed in darkness. In trying to get her to come back out, the gods threw a party outside the cave with dancing and loud laughter. Curious to see what was happening outside, the sun goddess finally opened the door and the world once again regained its light." Modeled after this story, the Owarai Shinji prays for people's happiness by sending much laughter to the sun during the winter season when the days are shorter. The festival becomes wrapped in a cheerful atmosphere filled with the laughs of priests and participants.
Many events are held at the shrine in addition to the laughter ritual, such as the laughing competition, street-style performances and other traditional rituals. The energetic moods are bound to keep you warm amidst the cold winter air.
The rituals and the laughter competition can be participated by anybody. Laughter knows no borders, and can jump over walls of language differences.
First, the shrine's Shimenawa ropes—used to indicate sacred spaces—are replaced by new ones in order to greet the coming New Year. Next, participants laugh out loud three times following the priest, in front of the renewed Shimenawa. After the Taiko drums are sounded, the "mass laugh" of 3,000 finally begins. Everybody—from priests, the shrine's maiden to the participants—becomes one through laughing. The trick to laughing continuously for 20 min, is to imagine something joyful and happy. Anybody can participate, so laugh your head off and bring happiness into your life!
The festival continues on after the ritual with street-style performances as well as the laughing contest. You are able to compete in "how well you can laugh." Anybody can participate, so try your luck with the best laugh you got!
You must wear warm clothes to protect against the cold.
Experience the heart and culture of Japan at Hiraoka Shrine, an ancient sanctuary surrounded by great nature.
Access to Hiraoka Shrine
Hiraoka Station (Kintetsu Nara Line)
Shrine is located immediately outside the station
Address of Hiraoka Shrine
7-16 Izumoi-cho Higashi-Osaka, Osaka Pref.